Health Minister Edwin Poots is under pressure to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK by offering women at risk of breast cancer the chance to take preventative drugs.
Half-a-million women across England and Wales with a family history of the disease are to be offered tamoxifen or raloxifene as a preventative measure following new guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The NHS medicines watchdog said a daily pill, costing under 7p a day, and taken for five years could cut the risk of breast cancer by 40%.
Its guidance for England and Wales means 500,000 women now have a choice other than mastectomy, while the Scottish government has said it will offer tamoxifen to women at risk.
Mr Poots has said his department is now looking into the “applicability” of the new guidelines in a Northern Ireland context.
Welcoming the publication of the latest clinical guidance, Mr Poots said it “adds to the options already available for the treatment and care of women at risk of familial breast cancer”.
“We have made great progress in the treatment of breast cancer over the past decade and this new guidance has the potential to further improve treatment strategies and reduce risk,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Cancer Focus NI said: “While this is a very positive step, we will be watching very carefully to ensure that the guidance is adopted in Northern Ireland so that women can access these drugs.”